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Colmar-Meyenheim Air Base (Base Aerienne 132) is an airbase in the Alsace region of France, near the German and Swiss borders.[1] The base is 15 km south of Colmar, east of Autoroute A35. The base is bordered by farmland to the west, and surrounded by forest on its other sides.[2]

HistoryEdit

The construction of the Colmar-Meyenheim Air Base began in 1951. The first unit to arrive was Escadre de Chasse 013 with F-86 Sabres and T-33 trainer aircraft.[1] Escadre de Chasse 013 members lived on the base until the united disbanded on June 23, 1995.[1] Escadre de Chasse 030 Alsace and Normandie-Niemen were the two squadrons in operation on the base after the disbandment of Escadre de Chasse 013.[1]

The Régiment de Chasse 01/030 Normandie-Niémen was formed six months after Germany invaded the USSR in June 1941.[1] The unit was created for cooperation between the Free French and the Soviet Union governments.[3] There were initially 12 fighter pilots serving the German-Russian front,[3] but the group was officially declared Groupe de Chasse GC 3 Normandie on September 1, 1942 with Commandant Pouliquen in command.[3] After training on Yakovlev Yak-7 in January 1943, Commandant Jean Tulasne took command of the group.[3] Between March 22, 1943 and May 9, 1945, the unit destroyed 273 enemy aircraft. It received awards from both France and the Soviet Union: The French Légion d’Honneur and the Soviet Order of the Red Banner.[3] Joseph Stalin awarded the name "Niémen" after the battle of the Neman River in 1944.[3] The group flew to Morocco in March 1947,[3] trading Vulture 11s for the first of the Mirage F1Cs.[3] The EC 02/30 unit departed North Africa on March 13, 1962.[3] In December 1973, the base turned to Air Defense.[3]

AircraftEdit

In 1951, F86 Sabre's and T-33 trainer aircraft arrived at the base.[1] The Mirage IIIC arrived in 1962, the Dassault Mirage IIIE in 1965, the Dassault Mirage 5F in 1972 and finally the Dassault Mirage F1CT in 1992.[1] The aircraft remaining after disbandment were transferred to Reims-Champagne air base.[1]

DisbandingEdit

The Régiment de Chasse 02/030 Normandie - Niémen was merged with The Régiment de Chasse 01/030 Normandie - Niémen in 2007.[3] The French Government announced in July 2008 that all flying activities at the base would cease one year later.[3] General Jean-Paul Paloméros, the Chief of Air Force Staff, led the ceremony for dissolution of the base.[4] The closure of the base was a restructuring of the air force.[5] The French Army started taking over base in July 2010.[3] Six Mirage F1Bs and about twelve F1CTs will relocate to Reims-Champagne.[3] The Mirage F1 will continue to operate for 4–5 years after the closure.[3] The RC 02/030 unit was expected to return in 2012 with the Rafale Aircraft.[3]

Meteorological stationEdit

The air base hosts a meteorological station maintained by Météo-France; the station is the sixth driest in France (after Marignane – Marseille Provence Airport, Perpignan, Clermont-Ferrand, Chartres and Évreux) of the French meterorological service network.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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